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July 14, 2016

Moving away from the traditional service desk

For years we have been supported by service desks for variety of reasons, ranging from HRM to IT. And when it comes to service desk innovation, the digital revolution certainly hasn’t passed by unnoticed. New solutions, such as self-service forms—and the associated efficiency benefits—may have a major influence on the viability of the traditional service desk. So what are their future prospects?

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Many organizations use service desks for a variety of reasons, including IT support, but it’s not always possible for smaller companies to employ or engage a specialist for every problem—the associated costs would simply be too high.

The discipline-transcending service desk
It’s precisely when luxuries are not available that creativity comes into play. A service desk, which integrates a large range of disciplines is certainly a good option when focusing on efficiency. One central place, where one team operates to handle all the questions from the workplace. It sounds simple, but to what degree are organizations ready for this? After all, Facility Management, IT and HR are entirely different worlds. 

A new style of service desks
At the same time, this new style of service desks would require a much wider range of knowledge, because staff would no longer only receive questions about one specialization. While this creates plenty of hurdles, I’ve seen the trend take off—organizations are working towards creating one central service desk. I think the key lies with self-service forms. These question-driven forms can absorb and automatically organize and prioritize a large share of the requests. By incorporating a question tree in a self-service form, the required follow-up steps can also be determined automatically.

For example, the coffee machine in the office is on the fritz. Using a smartphone to scan a special QR code on the machine gives the employee instant access to a self-service form. A questionnaire appears and based on the employee’s answers, a number of solutions are generated. If these suggestions don’t work, however, the request can then be sent immediately to a caterer or technician with supplementary information about the problem.

In the traditional system, an issue like this would have to go through the service desk, who would have to organize and prioritize the request, and then reach out to the appropriate technician. Now this step can be skipped through the use of dynamic forms. I recently hosted a knowledge session for several universities where it was  estimated that using such forms could absorb 70 percent of workplace requests  without needing any intervention from the service desk.

The changing role of the service desk assistant
This will also change the role of service desk staff. Because much of the work will be taken care of by the self-service forms, staff can focus on important issues that require client contact. They will end up with the very specific requests to deal with, which will in turn raise the service desk’s knowledge level. In addition to handling specialist questions, maintaining and enriching a knowledge base will become an important part of the ‘new’ service desk assistant’s role. This allows an organization to further define what issues need a human touch and focus on hiring a team with those skill sets for this new type of service desk. Organizations can then benefit from the reduced number of FTE’s, because there’s no longer a need to hire a whole range of different specialists. 

While this could be a splendid solution for smaller organizations, I don’t exclude the idea that players in the middle segment could soon follow. Because why would you keep spending money if there’s no longer a need to do so?

Vincent Henricks
Product Manager Integrated Services Management